Fired teacher sues CPS, alleging racial discrimation
By Lauren FitzPatrick Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org December 12, 2012 8:58PM
Complaint in Michelle Nelson v Chicago Board of Education [PDF]
Updated: January 14, 2013 7:19AM
Another teacher fired from George Washington High School has filed suit against Chicago’s Board of Education, alleging she was targeted for termination because she’s black.
Michelle Nelson says she was one of the African-American teachers pushed out after principal Florence Gonzales took over the East Side neighborhood school during the 2007-2008 school year.
Gonzales allegedly used the N-word to describe black teachers, and supposedly told a teacher she got rid of a special “Options for Knowledge” program so the black kids who rode buses to participate would stop coming.
“If they don’t live in the community, I don’t want their a - - in school,” she told him, according to the lawsuit.
Nelson, fired by the Board of Education in January 2012, filed a civil rights and employment discrimination lawsuit in federal court Monday. The suit is seeking money and the removal of any negative documents from her personnel file.
CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said Nelson was fired for cause. Gonzales retired from CPS in June and no longer is principal, Ziegler said, adding thatCPShad not yet been served with the lawsuit. Calls to reach Gonzales for comment were unsuccessful.
The lawsuit cites CPS data showing that the African-American student population at Washington dropped from 26.6 percent to 7.4 percent since Gonzales took the helm. Several teachers were fired.
When Gonzales’ efforts in 2009 to have Nelson fired for cause didn’t work, Nelson was investigated for living outside of Chicago, according to the lawsuit.
Nelson maintained her own houe, vehicle and voter registration in Chicago.
She concedes that she slept at her ex-husband’s home in South Holland to help care for their disabled son, who uses a wheelchair.
“She would go stay overnight there frequently,” said her attorney, Matthew Layman.
Nelson is at least the fourth former Washington teacher to file suit since Gonzales became principal.